Taxpayers are to fund gap years for graduates as part of the government’s plan to control unemployment.
This summer 300,000 students graduated, the largest group to finish higher education in Britain, with a graduate debt of £26 billion- its highest level.
This year the government will provide £500,000 for 500 young people to go on gap year trips that usually cost £3,000 per person.
The advertisement for participants says that joining an overseas expedition will “boost your employability skills and help set you apart from the crowd.”
Ironically the first graduates to take part in this scheme are the first students to pay university top-up-fees. They will spend the months leading up to Christmas living in remote communities in countries across the world.
The graduates must be under 24 and will learn skills that the government and Raleigh, the gap year company running the programme, say will help them to find jobs when they return to Britain.
Director of Education and Employment research at the University of Buckingham, Alan Smithers, said: “The Government would be better off creating places in education, so young people can develop employable skills for when the economy picks up, instead of having to bribe people to go on gap years.”
But David Lammy, the Universities Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said that volunteering “can help to develop the communication and leadership skills that are so highly valued in the workplace.”